Ninety years ago today, on November 11, 1918, World War I finally ended.
Of course it wasn't called that at the time; it was called The Great War.
How could anyone have known it would be the first of many?
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Chris Floyd is one of those few journalists whose work is usually too good for journalism. In a profession that boasts of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, the things Floyd writes afflict everybody -- journalists included -- and journalism, therefore, doesn't seem to like Chris Floyd very much.
Your typical Chris Floyd essay doesn't merely inform by asking and answering questions about the subject: it demands that readers examine themselves. Floyd's ironies are prickly at both ends; his questions are double-edged. People get stabbed and cut reading Floyd, which is why -- I think -- Chris Floyd's essays draw an audience of only one-to-four thousand readers from an English-speaking Internet population that must number some two billion people. No matter who you are or what you believe, it takes guts to read Chris Floyd.
So it is with one of Mr. Floyd's latest efforts. Titled WIBDI: A Prism for the New Paradigm, this one is a 1400-word smart bomb aimed at the mob of self-styled 'dissidents' who came to themselves during the regime of George W. Bush and now, having given their all to Barack Obama, expect jobs and many other great things from him. Floyd writes:
|As the United States enters a new and unprecedented political era -- or, as killjoy cynics would have it, as the American empire gets a new set of temporary managers -- the fate of the "dissident" movement that arose under the Bush Regime seems occluded. So many of those who set out their stalls as bold outsiders "speaking truth to power" now find themselves on the inside, enthralled by power, speaking for power, as it is personified by President-elect Barack Obama -- who, ironically, has consistently repudiated many of the tenets and principles that provoked the dissidents' outrage in the first place.
I have always disliked this phrase "speaking truth to power" (although I'm sure I've lazily employed it myself on several occasions). No one needs to speak truth to power: power knows the truth well enough, it knows what it is doing, and to whom, and why. What we need, most desperately, are people who will speak truth about power, and speak it to people who might not have heard that truth through the howling cacophony of media diversion, corporate spin and political manipulation.
So for those of dissident bent who would still like to speak truth about power -- and who are not sending their CVs to the Obama transition team or signing on as happy warriors to defend the new imperial managers from revenge attacks by bitter partisans of the ousted faction -- the question of how best to comport oneself in this brave new world takes on some urgency. In this regard, we would like to suggest the following conceptual framework for analyzing and understanding the moral, ethical, social, economic and legal implications of the policies and actions of the coming administration. (And it even comes with its own handy acronym!):
"WIBDI: What If Bush Did It?"
This user-friendly analytical tool provides a quick and easy way of determining the value of any given [Obama] policy while correcting one's perception for partisan bias. Simply take a particular action or proposal and submit it to the WIBDI test: If Bush did this, would you think it was OK? Or would you condemn it as the act of a warmonger, or a tyrant, or a corrupt corporate tool, etc.?
Of course Floyd knows most readers won't actually do as he asks. Tens of millions of people will not, suddenly, wax morally and politically sentient. 'Progressive' Americans are not going to turn on Obama and his Democrats and call their straw heroes to account for the things the 'heroes' have done and said (or not done and not said, as the case may be). There will be no mass demonstrations demanding an end to the wars in Central Asia. No angry horde will march on Washington to compel the repeal of the USA Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, an end to government prying into Americans' private lives, the depoliticization of our justice system, and the prosecution for treason of George W. Bush and his hatchet-men. No outraged, 'progressive' mob will humble corrupt leadership and force a return to constitutional government and the rule of law. None of those things will happen because, to cite the old saw, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
None of the odious things that George W. Bush has done could have been done without Democratic cowardice and complicity. Had Democrats insisted on a rigorous, public investigation into events surrounding 9/11 and the onset of the Iraq War, the bulk of the Bush presidency would never have happened because any rigorous, public investigation would have ended in the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney. Democrats voted "YEA!" on the USA Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and a long list of other perverse, Bush/Cheney initiatives. Democrats laid supine while Bush virtually shredded the U.S. Constitution and nullified, with signing statements, every piece of legislation for which he felt the vaguest distaste.
Speaking of Barack Hussein Obama, who was initially against the war in Iraq: by the end of Campaign '08, Obama had so changed his position on Iraq that he could have served as John McCain's running mate. Along with McCain, Obama went to Washington and stumped for Hank Paulson's widely despised and obviously corrupt $700 billion, Wall-Street bailout package. Obama stood with McCain -- and with Pelosi, Reid, and the whole herd of hypocrite swine who lead the purportedly 'progressive' Democratic congressional caucus -- stood on the stump and told the American people that they had done us all a huge favor; that the bailout was a thing the nation couldn't live without; that they shoved the swindle six feet up our collective ass because they knew the experience would be good for us -- a thing, they evidently suppose, that we ourselves are too stupid to realize.
The facts about Obama and his 'progressive' Democrats are rationally indisputable. They are in the public record of the last eight years. Most Americans over the age of 20 probably learned of them as they happened. Thoughtful people are taken aback, therefore, when they see the 'progressive blogosphere' awash in rhetorical swill: Obama is great; Obama is good; Obama is God's gift to Western Civilization; Obama will save us from the evil Bushmen; Obama will do this or fix that or make (plug in your pet peeve here) right again.
That crap wouldn't be so disgusting if we only heard it from rabid, rank-and-file Democrat partisans. It's the kind of stuff one expects from such as them. But when supposedly intelligent people like Naomi Klein start spouting the same sort of deluded gibberish, it's time to call for a reality check.
In an essay posted on Alternet, Klein asks: Can Obama Stop the Bush Administration's Final Economic Heist? She answers the question this way: Maybe Obama can stop it, but only:
|". . . .if the remarkable grassroots movement that carried him to victory can somehow stay energized, networked, mobilized -- and most of all, critical. Now that the election has been won, this movement's new missions should be clear: loudly holding Obama to his campaign promises, and letting the Democrats know that there will be consequences for betrayal."|
"There will be consequences for betrayal?" Since when? Democrats betrayed their constituency even before Election '06 handed them a majority in the House of Representatives. Of the people who coordinated that betrayal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi won reelection in '08 by a huge margin. Here in Iowa, Pelosi's lapdog congressmen all won reelection handily. Sen. Tom Harkin, who voted for the bailout, easily won reelection. One of Pelosi's personal political goons, IL. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, was named White House chief of staff by Obama on Nov. 5 -- the day after Obama won the presidency. And Obama himself -- even though he touted the bailout at a time when public opinion was running about a hundred-to-one against the legislation -- beat all third-party candidates by a stupendous margin. So I think Naomi Klein will have to find a way to pardon Obama (I'm sure it won't be difficult) when she finds he is not terrified by her threats of reprisal.
About the idea of forcing Obama to keep his campaign promises, I have two questions:
1) Promises to who? I'm sure Obama promised his Wall Street supporters that he would work for a bailout, and I'm sure he delivered. Does Klein suppose the president-elect will now reverse himself and fight tooth-and-nail to have the bailout legislation repealed? Any such move would make our new president a lot of friends -- both in Wall Street and in Congress -- as Klein should know perfectly well. So just for my own self, I suppose Klein had better quit smokin' dat nasty shit.
2) What promise did Obama ever make to us, the people? I recall he promised "hope" and "change". Speaking just for myself again, I've been hoping for political change every year since Ronald Reagan first got elected, and I've never been disappointed. Every year for the last 28 years, things have changed for the worse. Every year, the changes were helped along by 'progressive' Democrats, and I expect Obama and his 'progressives' will continue in that grand tradition.
Still, "hope" and "change" are good ideas, I think. So maybe Naomi Klein and her grassroots 'progressives' can persuade President Obama to have 'progressives' in Congress emend the Declaration of Independence. The new version should read: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, and the Hope for Change."
I'll drink to that.
Whatever President Obama does or doesn't do, the Obama presidency is a wormy apple: its bane already gnaws at its vitals. The fatuous mob who sent him to the White House and now sing his praises will almost certainly howl for his head within two years because Obama is not what they think he is and -- even if he were -- the things Obama is bound to do if he honestly tries to save the nation will cause us, the people, as much pain as would the things his rich sponsors want him to do for them at our expense.
I don't now believe Obama is what he puts on to be and I don't now believe he has the best interests of our country at heart. I do believe he will spend his huge mandate taking care of his rich friends. Still, I am open to persuasion, for I'm conscious that I was wrong when I argued that Obama could never win the presidency. I was wrong about America when I once wrote that there will never be a president of the United States named 'Barack Hussein Obama'.
Knowing I've been twice wrong about him, I wish Obama the best because the United States of America are in dire straits. We need a leader in the White House who is wise and just and strong. So if, by and by, President Obama convinces me that what he's about is all for the good of the country, I will support him in whatever he does no matter how much it hurts.
If the mess we're in hurts you, too, then get on over to Chris Floyd's place and treat yourself to a little rhetorical iodine. It stings like hell but you feel better afterwords, and you won't get bullshit all over your clothes.
Barack Obama, the most "transformative figure" who has floated to the top of our national cesspool in more than two generations, continues to show his hand, and it is not attractive -- or surprising.
The support it's been getting from the donkey party insiders is even less attractive, and less surprising. None of this is a surprise at all, except, apparently, to the vast majority of the allegedly dissident political bloggers of the supposedly angry somewhat left, who have a rude awakening ahead of them (if they ever wake up at all).
In other words, the bells of change are tolling, but they aren't tolling for you.
They're tolling against you.
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... it's so cute ...
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Enjoy this if you wish.
I'm too busy to blog at the moment (boo!), but I will rejoin you as soon as I can (he threatened).
In the meantime, please feel free to discuss anything you like on this here thread.